Saturday, April 6, 2013

Precarious Circumstances ( Joanne Hewko )

Joanne Hewko

Precarious Circumstances

12 March – 6 April 2013

Gallery 1580

1580 Cook Street

Victoria BC

Review by Debora Alanna

For details on Joanne Hewko’s practice, see her interview here:

This review concerns the work of Joanne Hewko, one of the artists in the two person show, Precarious Circumstances at the Gallery 1580 Gallery in Victoria

Joanne Hewko extracts intensity, transforms life experience into fueled insistence, some constituents of loss clarified and enlarged. She translates her experience of precarious circumstance into five glimpses of her emerging might made of charcoal on thick, ample paper sheets, with chalk, and acrylic resist, floor wax. Predominantly, charcoal fusain. Hewko charges as forcefully as Susan Rothenberg’s horses or ravens, a more singular story telling that William Kittredge, leading us through a living memory.

The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.
C.G. Jung


Artist: Joanne Hewko

Title: “Gravitas”

Media: graphite powder, floor wax, charcoal, white chalk

Size: 38”x 50”

Date: Autumn 2011

Hewko’s veins encase a charcoal sphere, humane. Wielding significance is suspended, tilted to emulate the precarious posture of the unknown, which enables shadows. Gravitas appears from the unseen, wavers in the unwarranted, entreating with an inflection. Senselessness swung, immense, nearly one way, not close darkly, stolid - the pitch contingent on what is unfathomable. Hewko’s dignity weighs pendulously, encapsulated.

As his eyes rested upon her, he was struck by her strangely ethereal appearance. She seemed suddenly to have dissolved into the tenuous substance of a dream, and as he continued to gaze upon her, she faded slowly from his sight. ~ Chapter X: Kar Komak, the Bowman. Thuvia, Maid of Mars. 1920. Edgar Rice Burroughs. [1]


Title: “Tenuous, At Best”

Media: graphite powder, floor wax, charcoal, white chalk

Size: 38”x 50”

Date: Autumn 2011

Hewko depicted a downward swing with Gravitas, while Tenuous, At Best is upheaval rising. She draws on unsubstantiated conviction netted to sustain what cannot remain. Grief councillors use balloons to help the bereaved symbolically release attachment to a loved one. In Hewko’s drawing, all influence is draw together and held. Here, Hewko gathers the promise of memories, like Louise Bourgeois’ Maman gathered her eggs. Potential horded.

Indubitable is Hewko’s appreciation of dilution with time. Time tethers, calculating fragile holds. And the possibilities that were available, in life, in causality are tenuous, at best.


Artist: Joanne Hewko

Name: “Barometer”

Media: graphite powder, floor wax, charcoal, white chalk

Size: 38”x 50”

Date: Autumn 2011

The poet may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather. ~ Lionel Trilling (American Literary Critic, Author and Teacher. 1905-1975).

Hewko’s Barometer is the isolated bulk and darkness of despair centered on her drawing, absorbing the viewer. You can almost hear a hiss as the sharp cloud points puncture the solid gloom bottom, with effervescing escaping. With a Robert Morris/Jeroen Witvliet influence marking thunderous oppression, Hewko succeeds in individualizing her imagery.

With the weight of hovering stillness, she articulates significance of loss, obstinacy buoyant with a smidgeon of spirited underbelly. She ascertains and draws a delicate intercession where globules assert, desert the deprecation of death, as in a chemical or electrical conduction, some substrate, a protected area, isolated, a confidence.

Barometer is instrumentation for a sustained weathering, change, or imminent change pressurized, levitating a deadening attitude, the height and distance the segregation of heart and spirit can figure while allowing the paroxysm of elation with gaseous flutter to be more powerful than death.


Artist: Joanne Hewko

Title: “Small Mercies”

Media: graphite powder, floor wax, charcoal, white chalk

Size: 38”x 50”

Date: Autumn 2011

Small Mercies is a close up look at the beauty and beast in Hewko’s Barometer. We are shown the implacable mourning with the tender fizzy life and tickle interacting to challenge what is overbearing, the weighty mass of grief. Using chalk to carbonate, minute optimal life-giving forms transgress grief’s ascendancy, ejecting hope. Hewko’s work is her mien - the poignant disruption and sensitive, mood and spirit edification. She gives herself clemency from bereavement.


Artist: Joanne Hewko

Title: “Grace”

Media: graphite powder, floor wax, charcoal

Size: 22”x 30”

Date: Spring 2011

Hewko’s Grace is an asymmetrical embellishment, vague, a sheer hammock, or a pubis covering composed of elongated diamonds. The netting between nonexistent supports, whether for human recline or as a garment, or a theological call for mercy, Grace is self-conscious, as grace should be.

Although Hewko produced Grace a couple of seasons prior to the trauma depicted in the work above, including this piece in the exhibition shows the precariousness of suspended belief, predicating the scourge of the other work. And yet it is also a circumnavigation of understanding and implication, a resolve and teeter for future experiences into the realm of mortality. Without grace, we could be a casualty too. Hewko demonstrates how perilous responses to death, the impact of loss on existence can be absolute without the delicate potency of grace.


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